What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

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Katy133
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What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#1 Post by Katy133 » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:11 pm

What sort of things would you want in a detective/mystery visual novel?

This can relate to anything: Specific game mechanics, art, design, character types, story, setting, etc.

EDIT: I guess since "What makes a good mystery story?" is a bit too general, I guess we'll focus on game mechanics for this thread?
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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#2 Post by trooper6 » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:16 pm

I want in a Detective VN is what I want in all VNs:
A well written plot.
Well written characters.
Good art that is appropriate to the aesthetic of the game being made. Bonus points if it isn't just another example of generic anime style.
A creator who follows their creative voice rather than tries to create by committee.
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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#3 Post by YonYonYon » Thu Apr 16, 2015 4:26 pm

If you'll meet this criteria:
- Don't blatantly lie to your readers.
- Don't hide the evidence just to fuck up your readers.
- Don't foreshadow in an obvious way.
- Don't fuck up a good story just for the sake of game mechanics, you think are neat
Everything is fine, as long as the story is good.
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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#4 Post by truefaiterman » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:22 pm

-You better have VERY developed characters, since they ARE the whole story here.
-Create an engaging context, in mistery stories the scenery, the time, the history, etc give a lot of impact.
-Don't be afraid to experiment a little with your art-style.
-Give hints so the readers can solve the crime by themselves, but NEVER make them obvious, nor hide them for convenience.

And the last one...

-Add some jazz. Every detective story is better with jazz... ok perhaps this one is not so important D:
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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#5 Post by papillon » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:04 pm

Read about the rules of fairplay mysteries. If you decide those rules are not for you, decide how to indicate to the readers what rules they should be using instead. Mystery readers will be very angry if they expect a fair mystery and don't get one.

If you are writing a fantasy/scifi setting, be very, very clear what the tech/magic level is and what it can do long before it becomes relevant to solving the mystery. This makes f/sf mysteries even more difficult than real-world ones, since in a real-world story you can rely on things that can be done in reality without having to put the reader through a physics class.

If you want to pull a last-minute x-files "was it magic or wasn't it? ooooooo spooky" twist at the end of the game... well, for one, don't. But if you must, make sure that the mysterious part doesn't completely undermine your entire story. Revealing that the flash of light that drew your attention to a key clue should have been impossible and thus might vaguely imply magic / divine intervention is a different prospect than revealing that a character you had a lengthy conversation with had in fact died ten years before the game started. That's not "was it magic or not", that's suddenly changing the entire genre of the work to 'ghost story' at the last minute.

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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#6 Post by YossarianIII » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:25 pm

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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#7 Post by Cith » Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:08 am

Detective stories focus more on the character, mysteries focus more on the mystery. Something to be aware of
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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#8 Post by Katy133 » Fri May 01, 2015 6:39 pm

What about game mechanics? Are there any specific game mechanics you'd be interested in seeing in a VN where you play as a detective?
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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#9 Post by KittyKatStar » Fri May 01, 2015 6:44 pm

Have you played Hotel Dusk? Just... everything Hotel Dusk did. I adored the gameplay, and I didn't even mind the little chapter quizzes at the end that refreshed your memory on what happened.
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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#10 Post by trooper6 » Fri May 01, 2015 7:06 pm

I want mechanics that are organic to the story being told. So rather than adding a lock picking mini game because it worked well in sone other game, ask...does a lick picking mini game make sense here? Also, the creator of the game really needs to think how whatever mechanics aid the overall artistic and thematic unity. Some games have a timer on the conversation wheel. That evokes a certain experience of anxiety in the player. Is a sense of anxiety central to the experience the creator wants to evoke. It would make sense in a noir detective story...but maybe not so much in an English cozy. So, I want mechanics that are integrated into the specific experience of that particular game.
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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#11 Post by Kailoto » Sat May 02, 2015 7:18 am

Katy133 wrote:What about game mechanics? Are there any specific game mechanics you'd be interested in seeing in a VN where you play as a detective?
Some sort of logic chain would be exciting, if you worked it into the gameplay naturally. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth did this pretty well with Logic Chess, although I've seen it done elsewhere with just as much success.

In case you haven't played AAI, there are certain times when the protagonist is interrogating a witness or suspect and they have to act quickly to get their guard down. At times like these, Miles Edgeworth uses Logic Chess, which is basically a self-contained series of branching choices with a timer for making decisions. It was pretty forgiving but nonetheless fun. You don't necessarily have to make it an interrogation, either; you can just have it be an internal monologue of reasoning as well.

Some notes for doing it well:
-Try to make sure it's not too harsh, or else players will get frustrated and look up a walkthrough.
-Graphical representations of "finding the truth" and special GUI elements help make it special. (Logic Chess did this well.)
-Good, "thinking mode engaged" music really sets the tone.
-Time limits aren't necessary, but can be used to build tension. Just pause the timer when the player has to read!

It's best to save this sort of thing for "Eureka!" moments where some aspect of the case comes together. I've found that when done well, even if I already know where the story's going, the moment of the reveal feels so much more badass.

If you have any questions about what I mean I'll do my best to answer them. :D

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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#12 Post by OokamiKasumi » Sat May 02, 2015 4:14 pm

papillon wrote:Read about the rules of fairplay mysteries. If you decide those rules are not for you, decide how to indicate to the readers what rules they should be using instead. Mystery readers will be very angry if they expect a fair mystery and don't get one.
THIS, absolutely.

The Rules of Fair Play

In 1930, during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, a number of famous British writers (Christie, Sayers, Chesterton, and Orczy to name a few) formed the Detection Club. During one of their dinners they wrote the rules of fair play. These rules were meant to allow the reader a fair chance of figuring out who committed the crime before the end of the story. While the rules have relaxed a bit over the years they are still relevant in mystery writing today.

1. The criminal must be mentioned early on in the story.

2. Supernatural solutions are ruled out.

3. Only one secret room or passage is allowed per story.

4. No undiscovered (imaginary) poisons or devices needing a long scientific explanation are permitted.

5. The detective must never be helped by lucky accidents, intuitions or coincidences.

6. The detective must not himself commit the crime.

7. The detective must state every clue they discover.

8. The thoughts of the “Watson” must not be concealed from the reader, and he needs to be slightly less intelligent than the reader.

9. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

The oath taken by all members of the Detection Club, which is still administered today, also states a few taboos -
"Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?"
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Re: What Would You Want in a Detective VN?

#13 Post by YossarianIII » Sat May 02, 2015 11:11 pm

What about game mechanics? Are there any specific game mechanics you'd be interested in seeing in a VN where you play as a detective?
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In all seriousness, I think trooper6 hit it on the head with:
trooper6 wrote:I want mechanics that are organic to the story being told.
The goals of a Phoenix Wright-inspired court mystery would be very different from the goals for a Sin City-inspired crime noir, and both of those would be very different from the goals of a Twin Peaks-inspired Lynchian mystery.

For example, the Professor Layton games are a great match of gameplay elements and narrative style. Layton is kind of stodgy and in the mold of a "classic" European detective, and so the puzzles he solves are mostly variations on classic brain teasers and logic puzzles. But that same gameplay wouldn't fit nearly as well in the world of, say, Deadly Premonition.

On a more practical level, it might be interesting to think about how player choices affect the outcome. Is solving the mystery and finding the real criminal the ultimate goal (as it is in the Phoenix Wright games, where failure is only temporary)? Or is the player allowed to fail and have the story continue? The latter option could be interesting, although I haven't personally seen any examples in interactive media that have pulled this off (yet).


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